Former Maryland State Government Official Sentenced to Eight Years Federal Prison for Distributing Child Pornography | USAO-MD
Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher today sentenced Mathew Palmer, 44, of Severna Park, Md., To eight years in federal prison, followed by 20 years of supervised release, for distributing child pornography. Judge Gallagher also ordered that upon release from prison, Palmer would register as a sex offender where he resides, is an employee and is a student under the Sex Offender Registration Act and the Non- fiction (SORNA). At the time of the conduct, Palmer held positions in the Maryland State Government, including as Deputy Legislative Officer for the Office of the Governor of Maryland and Director of Operations at the Maryland Department of Commerce.
The sentence was announced by the Acting United States Attorney General for the District of Maryland, Jonathan F. Lenzner; Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; and Colonel Woodrow W. Jones III, Maryland State Police Superintendent.
“Individuals like Palmer who market and own this illegal material online are essentially facilitating an underground criminal market that endangers children,” said Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner. “This case should remind us that the police will bring to justice anyone putting children in danger. No one is above the law. “
“HSI relentlessly investigates crimes involving the sexual exploitation of minors online with all the resources at our disposal. Said Special Agent in Charge James Mancuso, for the Baltimore Field Office. “We will continue to ensure that anyone who engages in any form of child pornography is held equally accountable for these deplorable acts. “
Under its plea agreement, HSI investigators received reports from an instant messaging app indicating that several accounts using similar usernames, all of which included “anonjohnny” in the name, had uploaded at least one image of child pornography or material sensitive to children. between April 2019 and September 2019. Whenever the application detected child exploitation material, it closed the offending account.
The investigation revealed that the same Internet Protocol address (IP address) was used to access all five “anonjohnny” accounts and was operated by the same cellular service provider registered under phone number, email address and Palmer’s home address in Severna Park, Maryland. The records showed that the email app’s account was also accessed by IP addresses that resolve to the state of Maryland, demonstrating that the user was accessing documents from state government internet services. .
On August 11, 2020, investigators executed a search warrant at Palmer’s residence in Severna Park and seized several electronic devices, including Palmer’s laptop and cell phone. Palmer’s cell phone was also linked to his office email address. Palmer’s phone was connected to a new “anonjohnny” account on the instant messaging app. Palmer admitted to using this account to chat with several other users regarding child exploitation.
For example, in a conversation with one user, in his very first post, Palmer said, “Hello, I have some naughty thoughts about my teenage daughters.” Palmer then sent the user pictures of two underage girls that Palmer portrayed as his daughters. In fact, these minor children were not Palmer’s children. In a conversation with a second user, Palmer said he prefers children ages eight and up. Palmer again sent photos of two underage girls, falsely representing to the second user that they were his own daughters.
At least 936 images and 368 videos of child pornography were found on Palmer’s cell phone, including prepubescent minors; child pornography involving toddlers; and child pornography involving bondage and other sadistic acts.
In addition to owning hundreds of images and videos that constitute child pornography, Palmer admitted to both receiving and distributing child pornography. Palmer had an app on his phone that is used to send secret and encrypted messages. Palmer owned two additional child pornography videos on this app, and evidence showed that Palmer used this app to distribute a child pornography video to a newsgroup of 58 people. Palmer’s phone also included several links in the “notes” section to active child pornography websites.
This case was brought within the framework of the Safe Childhood Project, a national initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the Criminal Division, Project Safe Childhood brings together federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information on the Safe Childhood Project, please visit www.justice.gov/psc. For more information on Internet Safety Education, please visit www.justice.gov/psc and click on the “Resources” tab on the left of the page.
Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended HSI and the Maryland State Police for their work in the investigation. Acting U.S. Attorney Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel A. Loveland, Jr., who pursued the federal case.
For more information on the Maryland US Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and the resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md/project-safe-childhood and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.
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